The city of Sydney has infused the ruins of a public waterworks with new life by transforming the antiquated infrastructure into a vibrant public park. Designed by TZG Architects and JMD Designs, Paddington Reservoir Gardens is the reincarnation of a defunct reservoir from the 1800’s. Situated a full story below street grade, the park has preserved the original barrel vault roofs and trusses with a subtle weave of new materials and a dynamic design that frames the history of Sydney’s growth into a metropolis.
The original water works was completed in 1878, but it was decommissioned after only 20 years due to low pressure and brackish water. And there it sat, occasionally changing hands until a service station had to abandon the building after a roof collapsed. When TZG Architects collaborated with JMD Designs to turn the space into a public park, they realized the ruins could provide a unique and valuable historic reference for the residents of the city.
The park collects water from the neighboring Paddington Town Hall, and from on-site rainwater storage tanks located beneath the walkways and planters. Australia is a leader in water efficiency, so the waterworks’ approach to water preservation is as symbolic as it is functional. The park has a dense layer of subtropical plantings laced with raw materials like wood beams, concrete, iron, and brick. The supporting materials were placed discretely in order to enhance the preserved structures.